MILWAUKEE — Across Wisconsin residents turned in their old prescription drugs or vaping devices on Drug Take Back Day over the weekend. On Monday, undercover workers prepared all of them for disposal.
One by one, crews unloaded boxes from a truck at an undisclosed location in Southeastern Wisconsin. They lined them up and rolled them down a conveyor belt to be weighed on a scale.
Undercover workers were collecting all medications, and vaping devices and cartridges turned into law enforcement drop-off boxes since April, with the majority from Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day.
Danielle Long of the Wisconsin Department of Justice helps organize the statewide program
“We estimate about 25 percent are opioids,” Long said.
New this year, people could dispose of vaping devices and cartridges, as long as they removed the batteries beforehand.
Paul Maxwell of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Milwaukee said the decision was a result of the growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in recent months.
“The DEA thought it would be a good time to if people didn’t want those or were concerned about it to take that back,” Maxwell said.
Last year Wisconsin residents turned in about 128,000 pounds of unused medications between the two annual collection days in April and October, the third most in the country.
The DEA won’t know this year’s numbers until trucks transport them to one last weigh in, before they’re incinerated.
Captain Anthony Kasta of the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office said it’s a process that helps the environment.
“They’re not put into the water or into the ground where they can contaminate plants and wildlife,” Kasta.
Overall though they hope that this effort reduces opioid overdoses and addiction in the community.
“The bottom line is that we are trying to avoid diversion for these drugs to get into the hands of someone who shouldn’t have them,” Long said.
You can dispose of your unused pills or vaping devices and cartridges all year round. Many local police stations and sheriff’s offices have drop-off boxes. Find your closest locationhere.